tv [untitled] CSPAN June 18, 2009 10:30am-11:30am EDT
i have been putting a spotlight on this incestuous relationship. american automobiles will not succeed if washington is america'america's automotive headquarters. neither would health care help low-income americans if washington is the headquarters. later today or tomorrow i hope to be able to introduce my amendment cosponsored by senator bennett, senator mcconnell and many others to give all the general motors stock, all the chrysler stock back to the people who paid for it. they paid for it. they should own it. let's get the meddlers out of the automobile business. madam president, i ask unanimous consent to include at the conclusion of my remarks seven newspaper articles supporting the auto stock for every
taxpayer act that i have introduced and plan to offer on the floor of the senate as soon as i'm able. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: thank you, madam president. i yield the floor and i thank the distinguished senator from florida for his forebearance and patience. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: and indeed the distinguished senator from tennessee is a great gentleman, and he's a pleasure to work with. madam president, the legislation that's on the floor is the travel promotion act. this is an important piece of legislation that will help our economy because it promotes travel to the u.s. and it promotes travel to areas not traditionally visited, which will highlight the united states as a premier travel designation.
-- destination. the bill initiates a nationally coordinated travel promotion campaign established in a public-private partnership to increase international travel to the united states. and it also creates a corporation for travel promotion, an independent nonprofit corporation to run the travel promotion campaign. the program will be funded equally by a small fee paid by foreign travelers coming into the u.s. and by matching contributions from the travel industry. it's interesting that the department of commerce announced that 3.8 million international visitors traveled to this country in march 2009, which was a decrease of 20% compared to march of 2008.
that total visitation in the first quarter of 2009 was down 14% from the first quarter of 2008. and international visitors spent almost $10 billion during the month of march, 16% less than they had a year ago. and this march of 2009 marks the fifth consecutive month of decreases in international visitor spending. and so, the bill is going to go a long way to help reverse the declining trend. i remember back in the 1980's when i, as a member of the house of representatives, chaired the u.s. congressional travel and tourism caucus, and we had this little bitty agency in the
department of commerce that leveraged so much of the taxpayers' dollars by advertising overseas to get visitors to come here, which brought spending to our shores. and that's what we're trying to re-create here in the meantime it had been shut down, and we were certainly cutting off our nose to spite our face. this legislation clearly is something that is important to the country. it's important to florida because, of course, my state is one of the highest destination of foreign travelers coming to the u.s. and despite the obvious atractions like disney world, florida's beaches are ranked one, two, and three and number nine in a recent ranking of all
beaches as the best beaches in the u.s. so clearly, this is good for florida. it's good for the u.s. and i hope we will get on with it and pass this legislation. now, while we debate this tourism promotion act, i think that we are remiss to not mention the fact that as we are going into this travel and tourism season of the summer, what is happening with gas prices. gas prices have risen for the last 50 days. it's been the longest record streak of rises dating back to 1996. and the national average of gas has gone from $1.61 a year ago
to more than $2.67 a gallon today. crude oil is now over $70 a barrel. it has doubled in the last four months. well, how soon we forget the lessons that we learned a year ago during last summer. in the run-up of the oil and gas prices, it wasn't the result of the fundamental concepts of supply and demand. but it is largely run-up due to excess kwreufp and unchecked -- excess kwreufp and unchecked speculators on unregulated commodities futures markets running up the price of oil as they speculate buying and
selling. now, it's a fact that across america we are using less gas. and according to the energy information administration, demand for petroleum products in this country is lower thaod than it was -- lower today than it was ten years ago. and according to the e.i.a., the supply of petroleum products is higher than it was in 1982. so you wonder why if this thing isn't being caused by supply and demand -- which it isn't -- but gas prices keep going up, well, what's happening? well, there's going to be an amendment on this bill offered by senator sanders.
i am a cosponsor. as a matter of fact, madam president, i am not a cosponsor, and i want to ask unanimous consent to be a cosponsor, the amendment number 1330. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: that amendment is identical to legislation passed in the house of representatives by a whopping vote of 402-19. it will put the brakes on excessive speculation in the oil markets. the bill directs the commodities futures trading commission to use its existing authority, including its emergency powers, to immediately curb the role of excessive speculation in any market it regulates and to
eliminate -- it directs them to eliminate excessive speculation, price distortion, sudden or unreasonable fluctuations or unwarranted changes in prices. now, you wonder how does this occur. it occurs because as people get into the marketplace wanting to protect against the future rise of the price of a barrel of oil, they buy a contract to lock in a certain price for that oil to be delivered in the future. now, naturally, a business that would want to do that would be, for example, the airlines. if they think that the price of oil is going up, they want to get in and buy a supply of that petroleum at the price now before it goes up.
but what happens is that when these commodities exchanges were unregulated by the enron loophole in december of 2000, there is no regulatory authority by these exchanges. so, for example, they could not require a certain amount to pay down if you're going to buy that futures contract. and if you don't have to pay anything down, then there's no skin in the game of just continuing to buy and bid up the price. or, for example, they could require that you had to buy those contracts because you had a reasonable expect aeration that you were going to use that in the future, like an airline company. but, no, what happens is if you
don't have to have that reasonable expectation, the people who want to get in and ride that price up -- in other words, the speculators, like the condo flippers. buy a condo because the rise in price is going to occur, and we'll flip the contract for the purchase of the condominium without ever having to close. it's the same concept of speculation. and we should note that this does not apply only to the markets that the consumer products -- that the consumer finance futures, trading commission, does regulate. there are still tkpharbgts beyond the regulator's control. and there is respectful debate
amongst some in the senate over the reach of the provision that we passed in the farm bill last year that gave the commodities futures trading commission the oversight over unregulated trading of larger oil contracts. i think we have to go further. i recently learned that the commission, the cftc is utilizing its authority for the first time. and i believe what we have to do is give them further tools to go further than just discretionary oversight, and that they should be able to regulate all energy trades. so, in addition to the sanders amendment, ultimately i wish that the senate would consider a bill that i filed that would simply turn the clock back to december of 2000 when the enron
loophole was passed before these sweeping changes were made that allowed the rampant and excessive speculation in our energy markets. mr. president, i want to turn to -- madam president, i want to turn to one final topic, and that's the nomination of inez tannenbaum to be chair of the consumer products safety commission. they have faced a number of new challenges: inadequate staffing, insufficient funding, a product testing facility that was a joke. as a matter of fact, we saw a picture of it, and it was a couple of cardboard tables with all of the imported toys dumped on it when we were having that trouble with the defective imported chinese toys.
and most significantly it lacked leadership at the top. so we took action last year, and we gave the cpsc new authority, new funding and a new lab facility. and so today we have to deal with the final issue, and that is the leadership. and i just want to commend to the senate that i think that inez tannenbaum is going to be that leader. she had her nomination hearing earlier this week at the senate commerce committee. throughout her career in the south carolina legislature, inez tannenbaum showed compassion and leadership on these environmental and children's
issues. then took charge canned re -- and reinvigorated an agency with over 1,000 employees. by the time she stepped down from that post in 2007, she was recognized for her efforts to improve the accountability, standards and peformance in south carolina's public schools. and i think that this is exactly the kind of leadership that the cpsc needs at this time. and i've met with her personally, and i know her personally, and i strongly support her nomination. and so my concluding comment is, we're not only having problems in florida with chinese drywall. chinese drywall that is completely ruining the lives of people in their homes because of the smell and the corrosion and the sickness that it's bringing
on to people. lo and behold, they're finding chinese drywall now in day-care centers, in commercial buildings, and even reported in virginia, they're finding it in a hospital. so this is going to be a big issue in front of the consumer product safety commission. they have the authority under law to do something about it. they've lacked the leadership. now with inez tannenbaunm, they ought to be able to start doing the regulatory authority that the united states government should have been doing in the first place with these defective, imported products in our country. and that's why i think we need to go ahead and get mrs. mrs. tennenbaum confirmed as quickly as possible. madam president, i yield the floor.
a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. isakson: how much time remains on our side in morning business? the presiding officer: 18 and a half minutes. mr. isakson: i'd ask that that time be divided between myself and senator mccain. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. isakson: thank you, madam president. to the senator from florida who left quickly -- and i'm sorry he left -- i want to associate myself with the first part of his remarks with regard to the tourism bill. he is a floridian. florida is a tourism destination and it is the number-one business in florida, but you got to go through georgia to get there. so i have to chime in and say that he is exactly right. given the economic conditions our country is experiencing right now, tourism is one business that we can be a catalyst for that will pay back both in terms of revenues and tax dollars, but more importantly, in terms of jobs. so i just want to associate myself with his support of the tourism bill and that portion of
his speech. madam president, injure phos , a minute, i want to talk about the opening statements on health care. it is pervasive in its coverage and the country as to the future of health care in america. i rise as one, not to be a critic, but to lay out the challenge that this legislation portends for all of us. and maybe to raise some points that thoughtfully will be considered before we make a serious mistake on the dpundzing side, the expense side, and -- on the funding side, the expense side, and the borrowing side a few weeks og at ago at a rotary speech, a gentleman stood up and said, i only got a high school education. can you explain to me what a trillion is? if you had to do it right now, could you explain what it is? i couldn't. i decided to go home and figure out some easy way to demonstrate
how much $1 trillion s i said, well, maybe it would be good to determine how many seconds it takes for a trillion second to go bivment i did the math on the calculator, thought i made a mistake and did it again. had it checked. madam president, it takes 31 317,097,11 months, and 2 days for a trillion seconds to go by. that's almost incomprehensible but does give you some idea of the issues we have to be consideconsiderate about. the c.b.o. has scored the parts of the health bill that have actually been drafted, which is about two-thirds of it. at a potential cost of $1 trillion over ten years. obviously we're going to have to pay for that. there have been some discussions in the last few days of suggested pay-fors. i want to suggest that we have to be very careful not to-to-use words as pay-fors that only move
money around. president obama said to the medical association on monday that one of the pay-fors by having public coverage for everybody would be there would be no indigent patients, therefore everybody would be getting paid for their services and that would save us $11 billion a year in disproportionate share of treatment payments gotten through medicaid because they take a disproportionate shaver indigent patients. there's only one flaw. yes, we might not appropriate $11 million. but we're not doing it because we're raising medicaid coverage to 150% of poverty. so the cost remains the same. it just moves from a cost to pay charity hospitals for disproportionate share to a cost of providing the coverage through medicaid or through the private plan. and the unintended consequence of removing disproportionate
share would be taking the economic model through which charity hospitals are financed and turning it upside down. because in my city of atlanta, where grade did i hospital exists -- and grade did i has gone through a reformation. we've created a foundation and done everything we can to save the hospital. but it gets a tremendous part of the payment for disproportionate share because it takes a disproportionate number of indigent patients. but if for-profit hospitals have indigent patients that now have coverage and they're closer than grade did i is the patient will go to the private hospital. so the "dish" payment goes down and so does the public funding. so we have to be careful about the unintended consequences. secondly, on medicaid, you know, i am a product of the georgia state legislature and i know the distinguished president of the
senate said, presiding officer, is a product of the new york assembly. and we all dealt with medicaid. medicaid is a program where the federal government pays about two-thirds of t the states pay about a third of it and the states run it. well, when we got into this business of expanding medicaid under this legislation to 150% of poverty, which is a 50% increase in eligibility, i thought back to my days in the legislature about how much money that really was that my state then was going to have to come up with under the one-third match. madam president, in georgia in 1968, the first year that we had medicaid, the state's share of medicaid for the year was $7.791 million. in 2008, the state's share was $2.468 billion. which would go up by peds 1 billion if we raise the -- which would go up by $1 billion if we
raise the eligibility by 50%. that's only putting off the inevitable for the states which will be a percent of their budget they cannot afford. medicaid in georgia in 40 years has gone from 1% of our budget to 12% of our budget, with this proposal it would go to 18%. and we must remember the economic stimulus bill, a significant amount of that money was medicaid money to go to the states to fund what is already an existing shortfall. so i come to the floor say this i am for every goal of the preamble of the health care bill that's been introduced in "help." i want to make policies more affordable, coverage more pervasive, access easier, and i want to lower cost. but as the chairman dodd said yesterday in the committee, history won't look favorably on you if you don't do something because it is hard. he's right. but neither will history look favorably phon you if you do something ease -- favorably upon
you if you do something easy. this is hard work and we can't take the easy way out to pile debt on the people of the united states america. hopefully we'll consider these ramifications that i've discussed and others and move forward with a health proposal that we can pay for and accomplishes its goals, whether an easy answer that puts news a desperate situation as a country and ultimately takes us to an economic demise in this country. so, madam president, i appreciate the time and i yield the floor to my colleague from the great state of arizona. mr. mccain: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator arizona. mr. mccain: i say i appreciate very much the wise words of the senator from georgia, who has been heavily involved in health care issues, dating back to his time in the georgia legislature and brings a unique peculiar erive to the issue; that of a person who's had to, as an elected representative, who's will h. to wrestle with these issues from not only the federal level but also state.
so i appreciate his words. you know, madam president, as the senator from georgia pointed out, this is probably the single most important domestic issue that will be taken up by the congress of the united states, at least this year, maybe in the next couple of years and maybe in a long time. when you look at the fact that we are addressing an issue that basically consumes one-fifth of our gross national product, not to mention the fact that the system is broken, that the inflationary pressures are unsustainable, and there are millions of americans who do not have access to quality, affordable health care. so where are we now in the united states senate? i think it's time for a little status report. the finance committee -- remember that there are two committees that are on parallel
tracks taking up this health care legislation. the finance committee and the health, education, labor, and pension committee. the finance committee yesterday announced that they will delay their consideration until after the 4th of july recess. the day before, the congressional budget office came out with a report that was nothing less than stunning. it indicated that the proposal that the senate health, education, labor, and pension committee is considering would have a cost of $1 trillion and only insure approximately one-third of the 47 million who are uninsured. which would lead one to the conclusion, doing the most elementary math, that if we were able to insure all of the uninsured in america, that would be a cost of $3 trillion. and we still have no proposal as
to how we would pay for this dramatic expansion of the role of government in america's health care system. and never before, madam president, in the years that i.f.r. bee-- inthe years that ie have i seen a -- quote -- "markup" which means we begin the amending process of a bill in the legislate tiewrks as we teach our children in school, and yet three major policy pages are still completely blank, completely blank. now, we'll see that -- we're told we'll see these new policy procedures tomorrow, that's after we were told we'd see them today. then the jorkts the democrats, who are coming up with this long themselves, without any consultation from this side of the aisle, they'll give us a
chance to review it. and those three areas are the really most difficult aspects of reforming health care in america. those policies are, as we all know -- concern the way that we pay for the new language on employer mandates, the government plan, and the biological drug regulation. there is a government option that will be part of this legislation; i.e., government takeover, eventually in my view of the health care system in america, something that a majority of americans have voiced their deep concern about, employer mandates, and biological drug regulation. so, here we are supposedly moving forward on -- and -- and
the administration spokesperson in the last couple of days said that the bill that is being considered by the "help" committee is not -- quote -- "the administration bill." what is the administration's bill? where is the administration's bill? and we have no idea what the provisions that i just mentioned will cost or whether they'll create jobs or not. now -- and whether the american people will be called upon to pay an increase in taxes, and if so, who will pay them. i don't know how you move forward with legislation that, frankly, you don't know how you're going to pie for. -- how you're going to pay for. so how can the president and the majority expect the american people to take them seriously when they talk of wanting a bipartisan flood addresses their needs when at the same time majority members and their staff have written the entire bill
without any input from this side of the aisle? i assure you, the american people would have much more confidence in this effort if both republicans and democrats were working together on health care reform. instead of changing washington, it sounds an awful lot like an one-sided effort to jam a bill through before the american people understand what's in it. just this morning there's some very interesting date tafplt according to a -- data. according to a survey the president holds a 57% approval rating, which is very good. on health care his approval rating is 44%. that is way down, and it's down because the american people are beginning to figure out that we're going to have a proposal that will end in government control of americans' health care, and it will squeeze out competition, and it will be incredibly expensive. as i mentioned, the c.b.o.
preliminary estimate is $1 trillion that insures only one-third of the american people. and it leaves 32 million people without health insurance. so, we hear that the finance committee, as i mentioned, is in such disarray over the cost in policies in their bill, they postponed their consideration until after the 4th of july break. they obviously don't have their policies together enough to move forward. it appears to me from service on the health committee that it does not either. i think the only reasonable thing to do is to go back to the drawing board. let's go back to the beginning. let's sit down together and work out a reasonable proposal that we can go to the american people that says that we will provide them with affordable and available health care. every american knows that costs are out of control. everybody knows there needs to
the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: madam president, i ask further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: i ask consent that indicate lynn miller and -- that kate-lynn miller and edwina hendrick be granted floor privileges. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: i yield back whatever time remains in morning business for this side. the presiding officer: without objection. is the republican time also yielded back? mr. brownback: on behalf of the republican leader, i yield back the time on our side. the presiding officer: morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to the consideration of senate congressional resolution 26,
which the clerk will report. the clerk: s. con. res. 26 -- mr. harkin: madam president, i ask consent that the clerk read the entire text of the resolution. the presiding officer: without objection. clerk s. con. res. 26, apologizing for the enslavement and racial segregation of african-americans. whereas during the history of the nation the united states was thrown into a symbol of democracy around the world. whereas the legacy of african-americans is interwoven with the freedom of the united states. whereas millions of africans and their descendants were enslaved in the united states from 1619 through 1865. whereas africans forced into slavery were brutalized and subjected to the indignity of being stripped of their names and heritage. whereas many enslaved families were torn apart after family members were sold separately.
the clerk: whereas a system of slavery, racism against people of african descent, upon independent became enmeshed in the social fabric of the united states. whereas slavery was not officially abolished until the ratification of the 13th amendment of the constitution to the united states in 1865 after the end of the civil war. whereas after emancipation and 246 years of slavery, african-americans soon saw the fleeting political social and economic gains they made during reconstruction, eviscerated by racism, lynching, disenfranchisement, black codes and racial segregation laws that imposed a rigid system of sanctioned racial segregation in virtually all areas of life. whereas a system of racial segregation known as jim crow which arose in certain parts of the united states after the civil war to create separate and
unequal societies for whites and african-americans was a direct result of the racism against people of african descent and was engendered by slavery. whereas a system of jim-crow laws officially existed until the 1960's, a century after the end of official slavery in the united states until congress took action to end it, but the vestiges of jim crow continue to this day. whereas african-americans continue to suffer from the consequences of slavery and jim-crow laws long after both systems were formally abolished through enormous damage and loss of tangible and intangible including the loss of human dignity and liberty. whereas the story of the enslavement and the segregation of african-americans and the dehumanizing atrocities committed against them should not be minimized in the telling of the history of the united states. whereas those african-americans who suffered under slavery and jim-crow laws and their
descendants exemplified the strength of human character and provide a model of courage and perseverance. whereas on july 8, 2003, during a trip to goree island, a former slave port, president george w. bush acknowledged the continuing legacy of slavery and life in the united states and the need to confront that legacy when he stated that slavery was one of the greatest crimes of history. the racial bigotry fed by slavery did not end with slavery or with segregation, and many of the issues that still trouble america had roots in bitter experience of other times, but however long the journey, our destiny is set. liberty and justice for all. whereas president bill clinton acknowledged that the deep-seated problems caused by the continuing legacy of racism against african-americans that began with slavery when he initiated a national dialogue about race. whereas an apology for centuries
of brutal dehumanization and injustices cannot erase the past, confessions of the wrongs committed and a formal apology to african-americans will help bind the wounds of the nation that are rooted in slavery and can speed racial healing and reconciliation and help the people of the united states understand the past and honor the history of all people of the united states. whereas a legislatures of the commonwealth of virginia, the states of alabama, florida, maryland and north carolina have taken the lead in adopting resolutions officially expressing appropriate remorse for slavery and other state legislatures are considering similar resolutions, and whereas it is important for the people of the united states who legally recognize slavery through the constitution and the laws of the united states to make a formal apology for slavery and its successor jim crow, so they can move forward and seek
reconciliation, justice and harmony for all the people of the united states. now therefore be it resolved by the senate, the house of representatives concurring that the sense of the congress is the following: one, apology for the enslavement and segregation of african-americans, the congress, a, acknowledges the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality and inhumanity of slavery and jim-crow laws. b, apologizes to african-americans on behalf of the people of the united states for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and jim-crow laws. and, c, expresses its recommitment to the principle that all people are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness and causing all people of the united states to work toward eliminating racial prejudices, injustices and discrimination from our society.
to disclaimer, nothing in this resolution authorizes or supports any claim against the united states or, b, serves as a settlement of any claim against the united states. the presiding officer: under the previous order, there will now be 60 minutes for debate with respect to the concurrent resolution with time equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees. mr. harkin: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: madam president, the clerk just read for the first time ever in this body what we should have done a long time ago. an apology for slavery and the jim-crow laws which for a century after emancipation deprived millions of americans their basic human rights, equal justice under law and equal opportunities. today the senate will unanimously make that apology. i, first of all, want to thank
my friend, senator sam brownback, for all of his hard work and over the last couple of years working together to get this finally to this point. i can't thank him enough. he wouldn't give up and stuck in there all the time working to make sure that this day would come. and i thank him profusely for his help in this effort. i also want to publicly thank congressman steve cohen on the house side, who is the leader of this resolution that they will be passing soon over there. john quincy adams once remarked our country began existence by the universal emancipation of man from the thralldom of man. america's purpose can be summed up in that one powerful sentence. we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal endowed with inalienable rights that among them are life, liberty and the
pursuit of happiness. as we all know, for too long many in this country were not free. many lived in bondage. many americans were denied their basic human rights and liberty. from 1619 to 1865, over 4 million africans and their descendents were enslaved in the united states. millions were kidnapped from their homeland, suffered unimaginable hardships including death during the voyage to america. a crime against humanity. in almina castle on the coast of ghana, a place i recently visited, there is a chillingly named "door of no return." an infamous open portal which as one looks over the horizon across the atlantic makes all too clear the excruciatingly inhumanity and horror faced by the men and women shackled inside this castle as they were led through that door and put on
the slave ships bound for america. led through that door enslaved never to return to their families, their tribe or their native land. on american soil these individuals were treated as property. these human beings were denied basic rights, including the right to their own name and heritage, any rights to education, even the right to maintain a family were denied to them. as chief justice taney sadly made all too clear in the infamous dred scott case, he said of african-americans, and i quote from his decision, african-americans were not included and were not intended to be included under the word citizen under the constitution and could not claim the rights and privileges. on the contrary, they were at that time considered as a subordinate and inferior class
of beings who had been subjugated by the dominant race. and whether emancipated or not, yet remain subject to their authority and had no rights or privileges, but shook as those who held the power and the government might choose to grant it. one of the saddest decisions ever made by the supreme court of the united states. while the reconstruction amendments, the 13th amendment banning slave rirk the 14th amendment granting full citizenship to all merps, and the 15th amendment guaranteeing the right to vote spoused equaled for all, widespread oppression continued. jim-crow laws, african-americans were denied voting rights, denied employment opportunities, denied access to public accommodations, denied entry into military service, denied
criminal justice protections, denied housing, denied education, denied police protection, denied due process. in short, denied their very humanity. not until the passage of the civil rights act in 1964 and the voting rights act of 1965 and other federal protections did legal -- legal -- segregation efficientlily cease in this country. the destructive effects of both slavery and jim crow remain, however. as president bush noted, "the racial bigotry did not end with slavery." president clinton stated that the racial divide is "america's constant curse." today many african-americans remained mired in poverty. average incomes remain below that of white americans. there remains an achievement gap in education and for many health conditions african-americans
bear a disproportionate burden of disease and injury and death and disability. african-americans are more ove overdisproportionately involved with the criminal justice system in our prisons. recently states -- alabama, connecticut, maryland, florida, new jersey, north carolina, and virginia -- enacted resolutions apologizing for the role their states played in sanctioning and promoting slavery and segregation. corporations, such as j.p. morgan, et narcs and wachovia, have also acknowledged and apologized for their role in ants profit from slavery. slavery, jim-crow laws, and their lasting consequences, however, are an enduring national shame. it was the united states that enshrined slavery in the constitution and protected it for nearly a century. it is congress that passed the shameful laws such as the missouri compromise of 1820 and
the fugitive slavery of 1850 which protected and furthered slavery. it was our nation's supreme court which bolstered slavery and legally sanctioned segregation, as i said, in the dred scott case of 1859 and plessy v. ferguson 1896. said we could be separate but equal. it was the federal government which was officially segregate. by 1913, all federal departments were officially -- officially -- segregated. it was the united states which kept african-americans who wanted nothing more than to serve their country segregated in the military and it wasn't until 1948 when president truman issued the executive order desettinging the military. -- desegregating the military. presidents have acknowledged the injustice of slavery.
president clinton spoke of the evils of slavery and expressed regret for america's role in the slave trade n2504, president bush visited gorey island, a holding place for captured slaves in africa and spoke of the wrongs and injustices of slavery calling it "one of the great crimes of history." moreover, in 1988, congress rightly apologized for the interment of japanese-americans during world war ii n1993, congress justly apologized to native hawaiians for overthrowing their king. the senate has correctly apoll jiesd for its failure to enact antilynching legislation. and last year as part of the indian health bill the senate passed an amendment apologizing rightfully so to native americans. yet this consequently has never offered a formal apology for slavery and jim crow and it's long past due. a national apology by the
representative body of the people is a necessary collective response to a past collective injustice. so it is both appropriate and imperative that congress fulfill its moral obligation and officially apologize for slavery and jim-crow laws. as we acknowledge and apologize for this great injustice, we would be remiss, however to fail to recognize those americans who with great courage fought to ensure that country lived up to its founding ideals. thousands risked their lives so others could be free. and many gave the last full mairve their devotion. from the beginning of the republic to the present, all genders and creeds and religion have risked much, including their lives, striving for a better and more just america. it is these often nameless
individuals who registered the voters in the mississippi delta, who marched over the bridge in selma, fought for better jobs and housing in northern cities and desegregated the lunch counters. i point to people like edna griffin, john bibbs, and len nard hudson. they entered a drugstore on a hot summer day in des moines, iowa, at a segregated lunch counter. when the manager refused to serve them because the store did not -- quote -- "serve colors" miss griffin refused to leave. and outraged iowans responded with outrage. and they won. edna griffin won. the lunch counters were desegregated and who -- who -- but a handful knows of edna
griffin or john bib intvment or len nard hudson? it is only because of the extraordinary acts of bravery by ordinary americans like these in all corns of this country that the mightiest walls of oppression have been torn down. as this nation formally apologizes and acknowledges slavery and jim crow, we must also recognize that this nation owes these individuals most known toll their friends and their family, an enormous debt of gratitude. 's awe make this formal apology, moreover, we must acknowledge and celebrate the deep lasting contributions that slaves, former slaves, and their decendants have made to this country in every field of human endeavor: law, literature, science, medicine, arts, business, education, sports, politics.
indeed, the list goes on and on. and six months ago an african-american took the oath of office as president of the united states for the first time in our nation's history. in conclusion, i want to read from the resolution so all those in the gallery and the american people will hear the long overdue words emanating from this body. congress acknowledges the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery and jim-crow laws. apologizes to african-americans on behalf of the people of the united states for the wrongs committed against them and their an ssess terse who suffered under slavery and jim-crow laws. and expresses its recommitment that the principle that all people are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights to the pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and calls on all people of the
united states to work toward eliminating racial prejudices, injustices, and discrimination from our society. in closing, i think it's important to note that this resolution will soon pass by unanimous consent, which means every senator supports it without objection. and finally, let us make no mistake: this resolution will not fix lingering injustices. while we are proud of this resolution and believe it is long overdue, the real work lies ahead. let us continue to work together to create better opportunities for all americans. that is truly the best way to address the lasting legacy of slavery and jim crow. madam president, i yield the floor.
mr. brownback: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. brownback: first i want to start with acknowledging a couple of individuals. first and foremost is the senator from iowa, senator harkin, who has orchestrated and navigated this matter to bring it on forward, and i think everybody owes a deep debt of gratitude to him and to his staff for getting this done. this is a significant day and a significant event, and it doesn't happen without a lot of effort. and it's going to be one of those days and places and times that goes down in history in this body. and it's important. and it's important to us, it's important to the nation, and it's important to this ait be said and said clearly, be acknowledged, and it's going to get done. and i really thank my colleague from iowa for doing this and for getting it organized and moving it forward. i also thank obviously the
majority leader for setting this time up, the republican leader, and our colleagues -- particularly senator levin, as a sponsor, and sponsors on our side -- senator cochran, senator bond, many others -- and i ask actually at this time by unanimous consent that senator corker be added as a cosponsor to the resolution. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brownback: and also our staffs have worked very hard on this. but i really have to acknowledge lara young in my staff. she's really been dedicated to get these through and forward. i thank her for her great work on this. it is my experience that apologies are tough to do. they're tough as individuals, they're tough as groups. they're certainly tough for nations to do. it's just one of those things that when this issue would come up for a lot of people they would say, yes, i acknowledge
that happened, but i didn't do t or well that happened a long time ... can't we just move past it? and yet my experience has been, until you actually acknowledge the wrong that was done and say i did this and it was wrong and i apologize, that there remains a barrier there. there remains something that you just can't get over, no matter how many words you want to put around it, no matter how much feeling may be there until you actually say it, it doesn't happen. and that's why apologies are tough because they're hard to do, and they get right at the core of the issue. what they get at is the core of an issue that are wrong was done -- that a wrong was done. what we're saying here in the united states senate today is that a wrong was done. a wrong of slavery was done by the federal government of the united states of america. a wrong of segregation was done by the federal government of the united states of america. and we acknowledge that, we say it was wrong, and we ask for
forgiveness for that. and it doesn't fix everything, as senator harkin pointed out. it doesn't do that. but it does go a long ways towards acknowledging an ability to move on to the next steps that we need to go toward building this more perfect union, to doing the things that martin luther king jr. would talk about, where you have a color-beelined society. i-- where you have a colorblind society. i think one of my loadstars for policy-making is mr. wilberforce who worked on ending the trade in great britain. it took years and they got it done. i also acknowledged friends of mine that traveled across america with a kettle, and this kettle was a kettle that former
slaves used to cook in, as far as they would do their evening cooking and for their meals, they would cook in it. and this was kind of gathering place for the slaves of this gentleman. it was his a an ssess terse' kettle. he took it around the country and talk about them getting together for a meal. after the meal was done, they would clean the kettle out and it was big enough that they would actually hulle huddle ndee kettle and they would pray. they would pray for their freedom. he was talking about the kettle tour because in this was the aspirations and hopes to be free. and they were taking it around the country as a physical symbol of a yearning for freedom that people had in and the slave owners would get mad about it. about but they couldn't hear them as they muttered their prayers under the